Body language and gestures account for a whopping 55% of any type of conversation or public presentation that you perform. Vocal expression 38% and your words are only 8% ! Gestures are important for many reasons including coordinating comprehension centers of the brain.If your gestures are incongruent with your words it will confuse the listener’s brain and you will be not be as credible. Body language also serves as a means to further accentuate your meaning and place emphasis on the points that you are trying to make. Gesturing will be an outlet to displace your nervous energy so as to not appear nervous, it’s a great remedy for nervous speakers and those of us that are more animated as to not be confined to standing completely still. Try giving a public speaking presentation or telling a story without gestures and it will be a lot less impactful because gesturing will add color and enthusiasm.
Here are some basic rules for gesturing During your Public Speaking Presentation:
- Gestures should be used at key points in a public speaking presentation to accentuate your points or messages that you are looking to impact the audience with. They should be purposeful.
- Gestures should not be repetitive because that can distract the audience they should be spontaneous in order for you to look authentic.
- The size of the room will dictate the size of the gestures that you will make. The bigger the room, the bigger gestures.
- Use you gestures sparingly. Your gestures should be natural and un-canned and your words should guide your gestures.
- Gestures add to enthusiasm and enthusiasm is contagious to your audience.
Gestures and body language to avoid:
- Leaning to one side – You don’t really want to be there, you are trying to slip away
- Pacing across the speaking area – Without purpose and with no relation to the speech – You can’t wait to get out. You are wasting your time there.
- Rocking back and forth – Loss of power, you are needing comfort.
- Turning your back on the audience whilst you speak (Could be whilst writing something on the board or pointing to an object) – You don’t give a damn about the audience, your notes are more important.
- Hands on hips will appear condescending, parental, overbearing
- Crossed arms looks like you are cutting off, disagreeing, wanting to protect
- Hands crossed in front (fig leaf) gives the impression that you are feeling weak, timid, needing protection.
- Hands joined behind your back looks like you’re on parade!
- Hands in pockets makes you seem nervousness. This can result in jingling any change or keys, making it even more obvious you don’t know what to do with your hands!
As you can see gestures and body language are almost crucial to your communication whether it is in front of an audience or a single setting. Gesturing can also act as an aid to displace your nervousness and will result in a more confident presentation. Public speaking classes that offer exercises in class as well as instruction can be a tremendous help to improve your body language skills and public speaking presentation.